Op-Ed Contributors

Libya needs China to rebuild

Updated: 2011-09-28 08:05

By He Wenping (China Daily)

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Libya needs China to rebuild

The post-Gadhafi era should see the resumption of existing projects and expanded cooperation

With the collapse of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, what has come to the spotlight is how the international community will help the National Transitional Council (NTC) restore stability in Libya and start reconstruction in the war-ravaged African nation as soon as possible.

Some Western media and NTC officials said early last month that Libya will mete out rewards to countries according to their support of the council. Some media observers even concluded that China would be a loser in the Libya conflict, saying Beijing will be excluded from reconstruction work.

Such remarks reflect political and diplomatic short-sightedness, and if fulfilled, would be unfavorable to Libya's development. Only giving all countries equal access to its reconstruction work will help the nation achieve freedom, equality, democracy, rule of law and full sovereignty.

As an important force on the international stage, China can and should play a role in Libya's reconstruction.

China's clarification of its political ties with the Libyan authorities in the post-Gadhafi era has laid the political foundation for its participation in the country's rebuilding. On Sept 12, China formally recognized the NTC as Libya's ruling authority and the legitimate representative of the country's people. Meanwhile, the council said it would firmly adhere to the one-China policy and abide by all treaties and accords signed between Beijing and Tripoli during Gadhafi's tenure.

Chinese companies were extensively engaged in business in Libya before the eruption of the conflict, including in road and bridge construction, real estate, telecommunications and other endeavors. Some 75 Chinese enterprises are reported to have a total of 50 large projects in the country, with a contract value of $18.8 billion and 35,000 Chinese employees. After the conflict started, all Chinese employees left the country, resulting in all projects being halted.

Undoubtedly, a stable Libya and normal ties with China would allow work on the projects to resume as early as possible and reduce economic losses brought on by war. More important, most of these projects are related to local people's livelihoods and their completion would help the NTC gain the trust of the public and allow for projects in other fields to begin.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China is expected to actively coordinate and press for UN-led reconstruction in Libya. The international community has extended unanimous approval to the world body's leading role in the rebuilding. On Sept 16, the Security Council passed Resolution 2009, which set up a special group to aid Libya's political transition and reconstruction. The group's three-month mission mainly includes helping restore public security and order, and promoting political dialogue and reconciliation of its factions. It will also help the country write its constitution, prepare for elections and restore its economy.

In fact, a UN special envoy has led a group to Libya and other humanitarian groups and engineering personnel are also in the country conducting humanitarian assistance.

In recent years, China has participated in several UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. It has sent 3,000 personnel to Africa for 12 such missions. There are still more than 1,100 Chinese personnel in eight peacekeeping zones. Chinese personnel have not only accumulated rich experience in their missions and reconstruction work, but have also won high approval from the UN. Undoubtedly, these precious experiences will help China play a positive role in Libya.

China can also play a constructive role in Libya's security, political, financial and educational sectors. Chinese companies enjoy experience, funding and manpower advantages, and thus can play a crucial role in rebuilding Libya's infrastructure. Besides, China can also offer training to Libyan troops, public servants and police, and share with the new government its experience. The National Transitional Council recently said it expected financial assistance from China, increasing the possibility the two countries will cooperate on financial matters.

Libya in the post-Gadhafi era should establish a tolerant government to rally all of its political factions for its steady transition. It should also establish tolerant and open international and diplomatic policies to enlist the maximum support for its arduous reconstruction work and the benefit of its suffering people.

The author is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West Asian and African Studies.

(China Daily 09/28/2011 page8)


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